Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It is all about Me

"In the midst of our growing fragmentation, we have never been more focused on the individual than we are today. This focus plays itself out in unbridled consumerism. While materialism is certainly an outgrowth of consumerism, it isn't its primary focus. Consumerism's primary product in our culture is narcissism. Remember, narcissism is a life in which everything is about us." ~ Erwin McManus; Uprising: A Revolution of the Soul

Have you ever stopped to consider what a contradicting culture we are a part of in the United States? We get all worked up over gas prices and then drive the most gas consuming vehicles we can buy, actually we about bankrupt ourselves trying to pay for our status symbol. We complain about the environment but we are willing to buy anything that is disposable as we produce tons of trash. People are quick to throw out last year's model for the small improvements found on this year's model and we tell ourselves that is just the price of technology.

I think all of this reveal that above all else ME comes first in our society. It might be politically correct to complain about gas prices and destroying the planet, but we are not willing to actually do anything about it. Why? To do something would require us to sacrifice what we like and we just can't bring ourselves to do that.

This "all about me" problem can be seen in the cheating spouse to the teenager looking to get high to the parents allowing a daycare raise their children. In this consumer driven society what we are ultimately after is what will make us feel good and will bring us a few moments of pleasure. The consequences of our actions are hardly ever considered because they are not part of the moment. As long as we can get what we want then ultimately that is all that matters. After all isn't the good life found in making ourselves happy?

The problem is that while we might find pleasure for the short term in pursuing a life that is all about ME, but sooner or later the consequences of that type of lifestyle will soon catch up to us. The pain and misery of these consequences will outweigh any of the pleasure we sought as we tried to arrange life to focus on us.

The amazing thing is that the solution we have constructed to get away from the bad consequences of pursuing a self-centered life is to pursue a life that is even more about ME. A person who has destroyed their life with sexual promiscuity will often become even more promiscuous. The person who has shipwrecked their lives on drugs will turn to harder or different drugs to take away the pain. A life lived for ME will always be trapped in this cycle of pleasure and consequences. The consequences will never be connected to their pleasure seeking ways, but will always be about the wrong the other people have caused them. In this Me-centered world we cannot own up to our responsibilities, so the bad things have to be the result of other people trying to ruin our fun. Until we wake up and realize that the best life we can have is a life the lived for others we will always be caught in this cycle never-ending cycle of pleasure seeking-negative consequences-blaming others.

One of the most common phrases in the New Testament is the phrase one another. We are called to love, serve, forgive, encourage, and help one another. Once we grab a hold of this concept and begin to live it out then we put ourselves in a position to live the life God created us to live.

All of us know that the best times in our lives have not happened while we were pursuing a life that was about us, but when we were with other people. Relationships are where we experience the best life. If relationships are the most important things to us, first our relationship to God and then our relationship to others, then we will be more aware of what the consequences of our actions will do to them and we will give our best effort to love them.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:3-4;
Don't be selfish, don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interest in others, too, and what they are doing (NLT).
The life of a Follower of Jesus Christ is one where the focus is removed from ME and is put on God and other people. As hard as it might be to accept we are not the most important thing in the universe. To live our lives as if we were will lead us to live a very dissatisfying life. The joyful and satisfied life experienced through loving God and loving people. A life lived for me will not bring me the happiness that I desire. A life of love ushers joy into our lives.

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